Tag: activity for kids

Zucchini Muffin Recipe: Veggies in your muffin? Why not!

Zucchini Muffin Recipe: Veggies in your muffin? Why not!

The basic elements for growing a plant are the following: water, oxygen, soil and sun. If you have access to all four, then you are ready to start your own garden. Either in the front of your house, in the backyard, or even inside your house, as long as you have windows and raised garden beds on wheels, it will work! But why should you try to grow a plant, or moreover, your own vegetables?

Some reasons are more obvious than others. You can control what chemicals go into it; you can save some money by growing your own organic produce; , you are helping the planet, and you will taste the satisfaction of success in a vegetable you grow yourself. Other less apparent but perhaps more important reasons for trying to grow some vegetables yourself include therapeutic stress relief, knowledge and respect for nature, cultivating patience versus anger and overall contributing to a much better world for future generations.

Planning is a crucial part of growing food. Learning the weather patterns and how each affects specific varieties of seeds is a good place to start. There is a lot of “learning as you grow” when you first join the expanding group of “home food growers.” The resources are fantastic and most of them are accessible from your home computer. Here are few links that may help you get started:

  1. For types of garden to build and how to start: http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/vegetables/gardening/
  2. USDA People’s Garden: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=peoples_gardening_resources.html
  3. USDA Tips for Organic Gardening: http://blogs.usda.gov/2015/03/17/tips-for-starting-an-organic-garden/

One of the best parts of growing your own food is eating it! And if you find yourself with an abundance of a specific fruit or vegetable during picking season, don’t forget to freeze it or dry it to save it for the winter. Add your home grown produce to your daily menu in a variety of creative ways. The zucchini muffin recipe below is a perfect example of how to use up some of your summer harvest. These muffins freeze well so that you may bake them and have a lunchbox or snack item stash for when you need it. The secret to turning zucchini into a muffin is adding almond butter, of course! zucchini is mild tasting veggie, so when paired with Once Again Lightly Toasted Unsweetened and Salt Free Creamy Almond Butter,  it absorbs its flavors and highlights its best qualities. Not to mention, they make  a powerful nutrient combo— the zucchini offers vitamin C, A and fiber, while the almond butter brings on the protein, iron and omegas.

You may follow the same recipe below using summer squash, as well! If you just can’t wait for your produce to be ready for picking, this recipe is worth a try with some local market ingredients!

zucchini muffinZucchini Muffins                       makes 30 mini muffins

  • ¼ cup Once Again Killer Bee Honey
  • ¼ cup Once Again Creamy Almond Butter
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 ½ cup grated zucchini
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon and oats. In a separate bowl combine eggs, milk, coconut oil (liquid at room temperature), almond butter and honey. Once well mixed, combine both mixtures until blended but don’t over mix it. Use mini muffins pan or a regular-sized one. Bake at 375 degrees oven for 15-20 minutes, depending upon which pan you use. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days, or freeze to keep for up to 3 weeks.

zucchini muffin2

Go nuts for Doughnuts! Baked Peanut Butter Doughnut Holes

Go nuts for Doughnuts! Baked Peanut Butter Doughnut Holes

Doughnut holes made with Once Again Nut ButterWho knew there was a national day dedicated to doughnuts? Well, apparently the whole world knew – except me. A few weeks ago, social media had a very sweet day with pictures of all sorts of delicious doughnut creations. From the best gourmet doughnuts, to homemade versions, they all turned into inspiration for me in the kitchen for creating my own doughnut recipe. Deep frying was out of the question, both for nutritional purposes; also   a big pot filled with oil at high temperature oil is not my idea of happy cooking. But how do you keep the moist and soft texture you get when you bite into a doughnut when baking instead of frying? I played around with the ingredients and found that using coconut oil and peanut butter was the perfect solution for a doughnut like mouthfeel and flavor. So although you may substitute some ingredients in this recipe, using coconut oil and peanut butter is a must.

Collecting kitchen gadgets is somewhat of a hobby for me lately, but I haven’t added the “doughnut pan” to my pantry just yet. Therefore making doughnut holes using a mini-muffin pan was the way to go! The small pan made these tiny treats perfectly- sized since who can really just eat one, right? And you don’t have to feel guilty about popping two or three of these into your mouth; they are a much healthier version than their traditional deep fried, high sugar, low protein alternatives.20150527_203504107_iOS

You may notice this recipe has the same ingredients as a previously shared recipe for our “Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins”.  It’s fantastic when one recipe can be made into so many different ways! I have made the recipe below with a gluten- free flour mixture, as well, for a friend and it worked beautifully.

Doughnut holes made with Once AgainPeanut Butter Doughnut Holes

1 cup all-purpose flour (or any flour substitute you may prefer)
1/2 cup Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ tbsp. baking powder
1 egg
½ cup milk (or milk substitute)
1 tbsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. coconut oil
½ cup sugar and cinnamon mixture
Coconut Oil for brushing the doughnut holes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium size bowl, add sugar, peanut butter, and mix well; then mix in flour, salt and baking powder.  In a separate bowl whisk together egg, milk, vanilla and coconut oil ,making sure that  all ingredients are at room temperature. Combine ingredients in both bowls and mix well. Add to mini-muffin pans, filling almost to the top of each cup. This will make them more rounded when they rise in the oven. Bake until you can insert a toothpick, and it comes out clean. Depending on oven settings, this usually takes 15-20 minutes. Brush each doughnut hole with coconut oil and roll it in the sugar and cinnamon mixture. The recipe makes about 18 doughnut holes. Store them in air tight container for up to 4 days.  They are best when warm and fresh!

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Playtime in the Kitchen: Peanut Butter Crispy Recipe!

No matter how old you are, all it takes is one bite of a Peanut Butter Crispy treat to bring the biggest smile to your face! Something about the combination of crunchy and sweetness results in an inexplicable nostalgic feeling of happy childhood times. The traditional treat recipe includes loads of marshmallow melted at low heat, which although a simple step, always resulted in burned pans and a sticky mess in my kitchen. So why not solve two issues at once? No more burned pans and another treat satisfying my insatiable craving for peanut butter! Use equal parts of Once Again Crunchy Peanut Butter (you can use the creamy too!) and honey for the perfect mixture to pour over the crispy rice cereal. Let it cool for a few minutes, and cut the mixture into squares, or use cookie cutters and get creative.

This recipe is a fun way to invite kids into the kitchen. They can handle the mixing step all on their own, spreading the mixture into the pan and pressing it down with a spatula. These are   simple steps that can boost their self-esteem and spark their interest in cooking. Most traditional holidays are associated with family time in the kitchen, but baking cookies can be a time challenge; however, these Peanut Butter Crispy treats can be made in 20 minutes from start to finish! And no baking skills are required.

Take it to the next level, by adding dried fruit and nuts to the mixture for a more gourmet- like treat. Sometimes I lie in bed trying to fall asleep and think about different combinations to add to my crispy treats! Seriously, I may just have to open a Gourmet Crispy Treat store one day with all sorts of different flavors. What would you think about a Peanut Butter Crispy Treat with chocolate chips and red pepper flakes?

Go ahead and create your own version of a peanut butter crispy gourmet treat and please share your version with us! I promise to make at least one combo you suggest and post a photo on our Facebook page!

Once Again Rice TreatPeanut Butter Crispy Treats

4 cups Rice Crispy cereal

½ cup honey

½ cup Once Again Crunchy Peanut Butter

Heat honey and crunchy peanut butter in small sauce pan. Then pour the mixture over the rice cereal and stir well. Pour the mixture into a small pan lined with waxed paper, and using a spatula press down evenly. Let is set for a few minutes before cutting.

Do athletes need more protein?

The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for protein is 0.8g/kg of body weight per day for adult men and women. This number is based on what the body needs to maintain a positive nitrogen balance; a negative nitrogen balance means that muscle is being broken down to be used as energy (not ideal since we have fat and carbohydrates for energy). But recently there have been many studies — doctors and nutritionists brought  to light that to simply maintain nitrogen balance is not optimal for good health, therefore, making the RDA just the bare minimum for all adults.

bikingAthletes have an extraordinary demand for energy, especially those who participate in long-duration activities such as practices lasting over two hours at any given time. Once other sources of energy are used up, bodies start to break down muscle protein for energy, resulting in a negative nitrogen balance. Most athletes already have changed their intake to adapt to a higher protein need, but what about adults who exercise 2-4 times per week, giving about an hour to each session? They aren’t necessarily your description of competitive athletes, people entering races and challenges; rather they are exercising for health, as a hobby and just for fun.  Do they also need higher levels of protein? The answer is yes! Some suggest that “recreational athletes” should aim for 1.1 to 1.4g/kg. of body weight per day for protein intake, while marathon runners should increase to 1.2 – 2.0 g/kg. of body weight, likewise, per day.

The greater number of hours and intensity of exercise will translate to higher protein needs. That’s not to say you can do itcarbohydrates and fats aren’t also important. They each have a role and are an integral part of an athlete’s diet. It is crucial to consume enough calories to support your body through your personal exercise regimen. There is no indication that a high-protein diet is required; however, maintaining 10% to 35% of your calorie consumption from protein is ideal. Although there is no upper range for protein, it is believed that an intake above 35% of calories coming from protein may be detrimental to health since it will leave the other sources (carbohydrates and fats) below the recommended levels.

joggingThis looks like a good time to remind you that most athletes (professionals included) get a share of their protein intake from nuts and nut butters! They are an easy source of protein and so very versatile to add to your diet and overall routine! Fruit slices with peanut butter, almond butter- based smoothies, or just a tablespoon of Once Again Nut Butter after a workout will do! Whether you work out once a week or every day, Once Again Nut Butter is the perfect fit for you.

… keep active and eat well,


Banana Peanut Butter Mousse: 4 Ingredients = Perfection

Have you starred at your refrigerator trying to find the perfect food to snack on? Have you looked at your pantry hoping something would just jump out to satisfy that sweet craving? You’re not alone! Just the other day I found myself in such predicament. And worse yet, I haven’t been able to grocery shop so there weren’t many ingredients to play with. Despite those difficulties I was pleasantly surprised at the perfect treat I was able to make with just 4 ingredients you probably have in your pantry!

This Banana and Peanut Butter Mousse is creamy and sweet; and making it in little desert shot glasses gives you just the right portion and hits the spot for desert or a mid-afternoon snack. You’ll need about 1 banana for 2 servings. Bananas are the one fruit I don’t run out of too easy. Sometimes I wonder if the cashier at the grocery store scratches her head when I go through with 4-5 bunches each shopping trip. There are only 4 of us in the house, but at an average of 1.5 bananas each per day, well you do the math!

The second ingredient is the Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter, about 2 tablespoons per banana, mash the bananas and add the peanut butter mixing it well. For better results use a blender. That’s it for the bottom layer, the middle is a graham cracker crushed up, and the top is a tablespoon of vanilla flavored Greek yogurt. That’s it! See, quick and simply delicious.

I made this for desert on a Friday night, there were 2 left over that were stored in the refrigerator. Saturday morning during my usual jog I beat my minutes per mile record, and I think it might just be the race back to the house to enjoy the left overs before someone else had the idea! It was the perfect snack for my post run refuel, protein and energy to restore my muscles.

Sometimes the best recipes are born out of “necessity” with a little creativity,


20150128_175305677_iOSBanana and Peanut Butter Mousse

1 Banana
2 Tbsp. Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter
1 Graham Cracker
2-3 Tbsp. Vanilla Greek yogurt
Mash up banana and mix in the Once Again Peanut Butter, for smoother results use a blender. Add it to the bottom of the desert dish, then crush the graham cracker using the back of spoon and a plastic sealed bag. Add the crumbs as the middle layer, and top it off with about a tablespoon of vanilla Greek yogurt. May store in refrigerator for 24hrs, note the banana will get a little darker with time.

Top 10 summer time activities to enjoy as a family!

Here are some fun activities you can enjoy with your family without much planning or major budgets. They can take as long as you want them to, so they are perfect for a whole afternoon or if you just have an hour to spare. Sometimes the best of times are a result of spur of the moment ideas!

  1. Camp out (or camp in)!  If you can plan a camping trip at a national park even better, but if your time is limited and or the weather doesn’t cooperate, don’t feel left out: Camp in! Arrange chairs in the living room, drop a long sheet over it and let the kids use their sleeping bags. Turn off all the lights and use flashlights only, no other electronics allowed either! Just camp stories and family bonding time. And of course indulge in camp like foods such as s’mores; which my version skips the marshmallow, we use a graham cracker with dark chocolate squares and peanut butter! No fire required and oh so good!
  2. Dance in the rain. Seriously, if you don’t do this at least once in your lifetime you’ll be missing out on one of the greatest moments in life. There is s'moressomething magical about laughing and jumping in rain puddles with a child. No rain? No problem! Turn on your sprinklers and watch your kids’ faces light up with excitement.
  3. Summer time journal Choose a notebook and decorate the front page with your family member’s names, this can be a whole family activity. One member of the family must write it in everyday! Write down what you did that day and you can even get more detailed by adding pictures and “mementos” you pick up along the way. During the school year there just isn’t enough time to do all this, so summer time is a perfect time to write wonderful family stories.
  4. Let the kids be in charge of meal time! Let the kids handle from planning the meal, choosing recipes, going grocery shopping all the way to cooking. Depending on their ages you can even let them surprise you with the end results all by themselves! Nice break for you from the kitchen, and they get to learn a little bit about all that hard work you put into cooking every day!
  5. Build something. And I really mean anything. A bird house made out of twigs or a wooden table requiring a table saw! Children thrive when working on projects. All of us have something we’ve always wanted to make (if not, visit Pinterest and you’ll be running to the supply shop full of inspiration), so enlist your children to help and get your hands dirty. Think about using recycled materials like old food jars or old broken furniture you may have in your garage, turn something old into new again.
  6. Take a hike. Sky is the limit on this one! It can be as simple as a long walk around a park or a special visit to an official trail near you. When going on a longer hike, don’t forget to pack up some snacks and lots of water.  Nut butters and crackers are a perfect combo of protein and energy and they pack easily and can sustain the heat well.
  7. Make some music. If you have anyone in the family who plays instruments let them take the lead. Just grab some old cans and fill them up with beans and start creating a beat! Turn trash cans upside down and use them as drums. Get your phones ready to record your musical creation to have a dance party!
  8. Explore the Map. Gather your family around a world map (on the web or a globe works too!) and pick a country you’d like to learn more about. Assign each family member a mission to dig deeper into that countries food, culture customs, native animals and plants. Share what you’ve learned and maybe discover a new spot to take a vacation trip to one day! It is so important for kids to learn and become aware of how amazing our world is, how different our cultures can be and how interconnected we all are nowadays.
  9. Be an artist. Choose your canvas and paint to let creativity run free! Find a beautiful landscape you’d like to paint for example. Each one will paint their own view of the landscape and who knows… you may just have some new wall art to hang!
  10. Summer time picnic!  Take meal time outside. Visit a park near you or go just find the nearest patch of green grass to lay a blanket in, it could even be your backyard! Take fruits and vegetables and remember to drink lots of water when outdoors this summer.

… enjoy your summer!